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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti and Pat Robertson: Slavery is A-OK

There are only a few things to say, but you have to watch the video first.

Now, having seen that, let me translate:
Pat Robertson is saying that the Haitian slaves who revolted against the French colonists all those years back made a deal with the devil to do just that, which means that Robertson is perfectly fine with slavery and colonialism. That's right. Robertson thinks both of those things are perfectly acceptable conditions by which people can exist, and that the idea of violently opposing a system that violently oppresses people based on skin color is the same as being in collusion with the devil (i.e. Satan).

And, no, it does not matter one bit whether he's talking about the original slave revolt, or the brutal Haitian defense against France some years later. It's all the same thing: Pat Robertson is a-ok with slavery and colonialism.

Now I leave the floor to you.

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  1. Anonymous6:09 PM

    Pat Robertson's assertions are not only ignorant but disheartening. I want to know why the mainstream media i.e. CNN hasn't picked up on this ridiculousness and exposed him for the sick Christian extremist he is. Televangelist like Robertson, Olsten, and Oral Roberts SCREAM ridiculousness words of hatred but their insanely radical followers are NEVER called out on it.

    Here's a news flash, ministers like this [even ministers like TD Jakes] that glorify natural disasters [earth quakes and tsunamis] to link human misery to their own actions are not only ignorant but DANGEROUS. There ideology is as radical as those Islamic clerics we keep accusing of spreading hatred and I am sick of it. They did it during 9/11 blaming that event on God's wrath against gays, they're doing it again and the American public need to wise up and take action by holding them ACCOUNTABLE for their nonsense.

    He DOES believe in slavery, he probably believes gays should be executed, still calls African Americans "Negros" if not worse, and was probably a huge supporter of Strom Thurmond.

  2. I'm pretty appalled by these comments. I don't even know how to put it into words, but let me try: First, he's asserting a historical event (making a pact with the Devil) that never happened. Second, he's trying to interpret natural disasters as acts of God or Satan, which in my humble opinion, one should never attempt to do because, well, it's just silly. Third, this is pouring salt on the wounds of a horrific tragedy. Nuff said there.

    BUT. Although I totally disagree with everything he said, I personally did not pick up on the undertones of him supporting slavery, even after watching this clip two and three times. I really think his main focus was that the Haitians were punished because of their "alignment" with Satan, and not because they tried to get out from under slavery. I think you can read into that and say he supports slavery, but I don't think this clip alone is enough to condemn him on that particular charge. :)

  3. And in response to the other comment, I agree: I'm getting tired of extremists trying to blame everything natural-disaster-ish on sin. I'm curious, however, on how you think they should be held accountable for this. I can't really think of a good way save revoking their privilege of free speech.

    I think in a way they already are held accountable, because the media does have a taste for the sensational, and whenever something crazy like this gets spouted, it's all over the news. The American public sees exactly what Pat Robertson and others stand for through this news coverage, whether the news anchors officially come out and condemn it or not. We're left to make our own decisions. (CNN did cover Pat's remarks, I think)

  4. Rachel (1st comment): Well, to him it's not silly. He truly believes that there was some element of the supernatural at work. What's silly about it is that a) he wasn't there; and b) he completely ignores the historical context. He would not think twice about the various wars described in the Bible, because he would see them as right, but the Haitian of the devil.

    As for his supporting slavery: His argument is that the uprising by slaves against the French colonialists was wrong (because of the Devil or whatever) is essentially saying that they should never have demanded their freedom, even by violence. It's about the historical context. They weren't revolting for any other reason than they were slaves. And when the French came back sometime later, which led to another violent confrontation, one of their goals was to re-institute slavery there.

    Whether he knows it or not, by saying their actions were wrong he is also saying that the French were right. That's about as clear an endorsement you can get for slavery and colonialism.

    For the same of argument, let's just say that the Haitians were, in fact, in league with Satan against the French (and let's also assume that there's nothing else we need to know about it). That would also mean that Pat is a-ok with slavery in at least some situations (if Satan's involved, it's perfectly acceptable to round up black people and make them work the fields; that's the logic).

    You can't really spin it away from slavery, racism, and colonialism. You always end up right back where you started.

    Rachel (comment #2): I disagree that they are held accountable. They might get flack for saying certain things, but that's far from being held accountable for their actions. Pat has been saying horrible things for decades and he's yet to actually atone for any of it. He's never been fired. In fact, most of the extremists rarely suffer for saying things that to any civilized person would sound awful. They get a little reaming from everyone else, but that's about it.

  5. Anonymous12:14 AM

    Pat Robertson is crazy and ignorant of history, and seems to assume every catastrophe and calamity is the work of a vindictive, interventionist God; however, if you look carefully at Pat Robertson's words, he isn't saying he's against the the slaves becoming free, he's against the means through which he believes they freed themselves. The country is cursed, in his opinion, not because the slaves revolted against the French, but because the slaves made a pact with the devil.

    Pat Robertson says "under the heel of the French" which has a negative connotation, showing that he does not look back upon French rule as being a good thing. He then says "got themselves free" which has a relatively positive connotation.

    Pat Robertson's mistakes and ignorance are with made up historic facts backed up only by "post hoc ergo propter hoc."

    In short, Pat Robertson is batshit insane and is using a tragedy to put forward his mistaken ideology, however he is not pro-slavery, pro-French, or pro-colonialism.

    For the record I strongly dislike Pat Robertson, and his ideology.


  6. I'll disagree with you when I have time on Saturday.

  7. The funny thing is that under Pat's own logic, Haiti was able to defeat the French, a nation of Christendom, with the power of the Devil. The conclusion one must derive from such logic is that Satan is stronger than God, which is an odd thing for Pat to say don't you think?

  8. Croc: If you want to analyze Pat's rhetoric, you can't really point out where he's trying to seem like he's saying something against slavery/colonialism without also pointing out where he's doing the exact opposite. At best, Pat is trying desperately to make a very bad thing sound nicer by using those very phrases you linked. Behind all that, however, Pat believes that a nation that wanted to be free had to make a deal with the devil to do it, based on no evidence whatsoever, which, no matter how you spin it, still connects the notion of wanting to be free from slavery and colonialism under the rubric of evil. That, in and of itself, implies that he's OK with slavery in certain situations (i.e. when they serve his purposes). Whether he is okay with those two things in a grander context is irrelevant; in this instance, if you make a deal with the devil to get out of slavery (or, if we want actual history context here: if slaves revolt twice and many years later are living in bad conditions), you made a bad choice. How dare you try to be free.

    Greyweather: Yes, it is. But to be fair to Pat, it's not like he's been talking anything close to logical in the last...forever?

  9. Croc: Actually, I think a better way to counter your argument would be to say this: it's like saying we should take someone's racist comments as not racist simply because the individual in question remarked beforehand that he or she is not a racist. The sentiments are still the same, but I'm far less willing to give leeway to someone who has a history of saying vile, terrible things, always mixed with some vague counter-expression (a proclivity towards hatred dolled-up with a few trite remarks that run contrary; it all seems to point in the same direction).

  10. It makes you wonder how he stays on the air. Why hasn't someone with sense pulled him?

    Straight From Hel

  11. Anonymous6:00 PM

    "Behind all that, however, Pat believes that a nation that wanted to be free had to make a deal with the devil to do it, based on no evidence whatsoever, which, no matter how you spin it, still connects the notion of wanting to be free from slavery and colonialism under the rubric of evil."

    No. Pat believes that a nation that wanted to be free had to make a deal with the devil to do it, based on no evidence whatsoever, which not matter how you spin it, only connects the idea that making a deal from the devil is evil.

    Pat Robertson simply is using a logically nonsensical backwards reasoning technique:
    1. Haiti has been plagued by disaster ever since they earned their freedom.
    2. The Dominican Republic has not been plagued by disaster since they earned their freedom.
    1. In the process of gaining independence from France, Haiti must have displeased God.
    2. In the process of gaining independence from Spain, the Dominican Republic must not have displeased God.
    1. Haiti made a deal with the Devil.
    2. The Dominican Republic didn't.
    A large part of his argument in the sound bite you selected compares the Dominican Republic to Haiti.

    Pat Robertson isn't saying the goal of the revolutionaries is wrong, he is saying the means by which they were attained was wrong. Basically, in his brand of Christianity the Devil is a tempter figure who makes deals with people that aren't necessarily evil--like they're supposed to seem positive, however by bargaining with him you give up your soul and therefore incur God's wrath.

    I mean, Pat Robertson is misguided, ignorant, and crazy. I truly dislike his message, however, a shakily drawn inference and speculation isn't necessarily truth.

  12. Helen: He's on a right-wing cable network, so the chances of him being pulled off are slim (hell, even FOX News hasn't the balls to kick off their newscasters when they screw up).

    Anon (or Croc?): And in all of that you don't see anything inherently racist both in the situation being presented (his "co-anchor," for example, is a black woman whose job it seems is to sit there and nod, as if to imply that her presence somehow makes his message all the more accurate--"see, I've got her to say it's okay") and in what he is saying? If you can't see it (and by seeing the racist connections in scenario and action, also seeing the potentiality for endorsing slavery, even lightly), then I think we'll have to agree to disagree.

  13. "He's on a right-wing cable network, so the chances of him being pulled off are slim (hell, even FOX News hasn't the balls to kick off their newscasters when they screw up)."

    A right-wing cable network which he founded and is the current chairman. I doubt he's going to kick himself off.

  14. Greyweather: That makes it even worse.